Toyota

Since the Dilly, Dally, Delay & Stall Law Firms are adding their billable hours, the Toyota U.S.A. and Route 44 Toyota posts have been separated here:

Route 44 Toyota Sold Me A Lemon



Saturday, January 31, 2009

Obsessive Compression

Middleboro's Town Charter charges the Board of Selectmen with the responsibility to act as Water Commissioners. Their failure to act to increase water rates, when Marsha Brunelle was chairman caused real estate tax bills to be sent out late.
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A Water Rate Hearing was held to increase rates and restored solvency to the Enterprise Account.
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The supporting documentation was presented during the pubic hearing, from Selectman Patrick Rogers' lap top. When I requested a copy of that documentation from the Selectmen's Secretary, I was informed that no records existed within Town Hall. When I requested the information from Patrick Rogers twice, I was finally told that he had not retained the information.
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So, water rate payers are paying increased fees and no one felt the need to respect the Public Records and Archive statutes enough to preserve information? Baffling! When issues of Transparency are raised repeatedly, this is why.
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Because the Board seems frozen in inaction and merely continues to add to the long list of items never addressed, I had suggested that a sub-committee of sorts be appointed by the BOS to act as Water Commissioners, maybe meeting quarterly to review rates, fees, ongoing projects and plan for the future.
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That suggestion was met with the predictable knee-jerk response by the illustrious Town Fathers.
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During a subsequent conversation with Selectman Patrick Rogers, he indicated that he had participated in a committee that studied aspects of combining the Water and Sewer Departments, traveled to other municipalities to evaluate their solutions.
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It was determined by that committee that the most effective solution was combining Water, Sewer and DPW.
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The Chairman of the committee was Tom White, from whom I requested a copy of the report. Never received.
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There is no indication that information or meeting minutes were ever received by the Town Clerk.
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Although this is Mushroom Farming in its purest form, it ignores that a member of the Board of Selectman is obsessed with Compression.
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That Selectman, always after the fact and oblivious to reality, waited until hiring a Fire Chief was imminent before campaigning for a Public Safety Director.
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Now that both the DPW Superintendent and the Water Superintendent have announced their retirement intentions, it might seem a good time to consider Mr. Spataro's Compression Theory. Or will Mr. Spataro wait until replacements are about to be hired before raising the issue?
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Let's not forget that Mr. Spataro, in questioning the DPW Superintendent's comment about road salt tripling in price, asked the cost. When the cost was quoted, Mr. Spataro then asked if the cost was for a pound.
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This is not the way other Towns operate.

Middleboro Mushroom Farming



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Middleboro, blessed with a Board of Selectmen incapable of entertaining two thoughts at one time, moving the town forward or planning for the future, failed to notice or participate in discussions or public hearings about a proposed power plant at its borders that will adversely impact already poor air quality. Brockton Power Plant

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This is a Board that spent an inordinate amount of time discussing its exclusion from the Regional Task Force formed by surrounding communities to consider the impacts of a proposed casino in Middleboro. The Middleboro Board continued to pretend that they had valuable information to make available to the RTF, even though the information was unavailable to Middleboro residents. Where is it? The information could have been made available without Middleboro's inclusion, but successfully distracted the RTF from assessing the dollar values of those impacts.

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Of Middleboro school impacts, the Superintendent merely specified the cost of repairs to school buildings. Even conservative school population projections indicate the need for new school construction, but neither the Board nor the School Committee have even allowed this oversight to affect their unquestioning support for the project.

Presented with an opportunity to re-negotiate the IGA amidst impending felony indictments, the Board has yet to assess the real costs to the Town.

But I digress.

The Brockton Enterprise reported:

On Thursday, the state Energy Facilities Siting Board tentatively approved a permit for the project but also ruled that the plant must face zoning review from Brockton city boards.

Will the Middleboro Board of Selectmen ever do its job of representing the residents of the Town or will Middleboro continue to be home of Mushroom Farming?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Middleboro's Financial Geniuses

Taking a brief walk down Memory Lane, Middleboro residents would do well to reminisce about past history of land sales and the wondrous job Middleboro's Board of Selectmen has done giving away land to the lowest bidder and buying swampland for far more than its value.
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The short-sighted Middleboro Board of Selectmen hasn't changed and will not change until qualified candidates are elected to the Board, another issue entirely.
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September 2008, this was posted (emphasis mine):


You Can't Blame the New Town Manager excerpts below:
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You can't blame the new Town Manager because the Middleboro Board of Selectmen failed to explain the surrounding issues to him.
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During the BOS Meeting (Monday, September 8, 2008), the Town ownership and disposition of the Rock Village School on Highland St. was discussed.

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The Rock Village School became vacant because the church group that had occupied the building was delinquent in their rent, hadn't maintained the building, as was required in their lease and Town Counsel opined that occupancy by the church was illegal.
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In the intervening + 1 year, has anyone heard mention of RFPs (Request for Proposals)? Has there been any solicitation for ideas about using the property for community purposes?

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...possibly selling the Rock Village School property, in a depressed real estate market, which would allow for residential construction .
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This one clearly bears watching because mostly the same short-sighted BOS is in place.
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In May 2008, this was posted (emphasis mine):
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Jack Healey and the Casino Investors
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Casino investors engineered secret deal
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In a secret deal, casino investors for the Mashpee Wampanoag secured an option on 200 acres in Middleboro two days before they purchased 125 adjacent acres from the town.

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The deal, and the secrecy surrounding it, may have resulted in the town garnering less money than it could have had the deal last April been more widely advertised.

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Former Middleboro Town Manager Jack Healey, who first proposed the auction to raise money for the cash-strapped town, has since retired and could not be reached for comment. Town and tribe officials first met in March to begin talking about a proposed casino, according to Times archives.

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Middleboro selectmen approved the auction April 9 and it was held April 27. The auction was advertised only in the local weekly newspaper, town Treasurer Judy MacDonald said.

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But if the town wanted to get top dollar for the property, it should have done more advertising, Stevens said.

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The Late Victor Sylvia stood at Town Meeting and protested the proposed sale of the Rock Village School because the land had been given to the Town to be used for educational purposes and has been used as such, for many years.
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Illustrious Town Counsel, Daniel Murray ruled the sale is OK!
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I'm not an attorney, but would remind Middleboro residents, that as unskilled and unschooled as I am in the law, I beat Mr. Murray twice in court.

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He wasted the Town's paid time traveling to Boston to challenge me on basic issues and LOST. Novice that I am, I represented myself.
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There are other occasions when Mr. Murray's legal advice has proven defective. The most recent public issue was ruling that Mrs. Duphily could participate in discussions involving hiring the new Fire Chief, although her husband was on the Call Fire Department. The Ethics Commission said No! The Ethics statutes are clearly displayed on the web site for review.
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I am aware of other matters in which Town Counsel's rulings have cost the town money and merely raise the issues regarding this matter to question the validity of retaining that parcel, but urge residents to pay attention to their town's governance.
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All of the background brings me to rumors circulating around Town that the Town Manager, no longer so new, is moving in the direction of selling the Rock Village School.

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The proposed sale, having been defeated once by Town Meeting because of previous failures of our Financial Geniuses guiding the Town, should alert residents about what is being done. Does any potential value, in a depressed real estate market, make sense at this time? These Financial Geniuses have allowed other properties to fall into total disrepair prior to action.

This looks like more Mushroom Farming while you're paying attention to other things.

The honeymoon with the 'new' Town Manager appears over and someone needs to 'xplain past history to him.

The Town Manager's handling of various aspects of the last Special Town Meeting were questionable and we might excuse it because of his 'newness,' but let's not allow town property to be sold without adequate discussion and consideration given to potential community use because I am aware of someone who approached the Town for just such a use. Are we returning to the Lazy BOS Sydrome in which the Town Manager runs amok?

And remember, the Gavel Queen is Chairman again. When residents attempted to discuss the poorly advertised land auction in which the Precinct Street property was practically given away, cheating taxpayers out of money, the Gavel Queen REFUSED to allow residents to comment. Keep that gavel handy, Marsha! And with Wayne Perkins as Town Moderator, you won't even be allowed to comment. He'll simply ignore you!

Energy Efficient Community Housing

The planned community of Westwood, located in Asheville, North Carolina provides an excellent example of community energy generation ---

Westwood Cohousing Home Page

Additional information offered by --

Building Green

North Carolina Green Building Technology Database

Green Communities

There's a great deal of information available about community organized alternative energy projects that I'll continue to post, but this is among the first, and provides insight:

What is Solar Sebastopol?

Please note:
Solar Sebastopol has recently expanded to Solar Sonoma County.

We are keeping this Solar Sebastopol site up since it is full of information and history, but for current news and activities, please go to the new Solar Sonoma County site: www.solarsonomacounty.org

Solar Sebastopol is a local first-of-its-kind program to encourage more solar energy on residential, business, and public properties in Sebastopol, Sonoma County, CA. Our goal is to install 1 megawatt of solar power production in the City of Sebastopol. That’s equivalent to solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on about 500 average-size homes.

We also have a goal of assuring high-quality installations that meet all code standards which is why we sponsor trainings for inspectors and professionals in the field.

We have a window of opportunity to drastically cut the out-of-pocket costs of each solar electric system installation. Act now while rebates and tax credits are still available!

Middleboro Green Committee

Since town residents have asked me about the status of Middleboro's Green Committee, I can only offer the information available. On January 9, 2009, the following letter was hand-delievered to the Middleboro Town Manager:
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Dear Mr. Cristello:

When the matter of a Green Committee was discussed by the Board of Selectmen, I immediately communicated with the Board’s secretary to express my interest in serving. At that time, my computer was being repaired, as I explained to Ms. Shandley. I requested that my name be added to the list of interested applicants.

When I recently inquired about the status of the Committee, it appeared, that the 7 members being sought had been achieved. They are as follows:

1. Jo Ranahan
2. Steve Bonfiglio
3. Charles R. Chace
4. James Cook
5. Ada Alfonso
6. Julie Gould
7. Brian Kowalski

If for any reason, any of the above decline participation, I would appreciate consideration for membership on the Committee.

My interest and concern regarding the issue doesn’t revolve around my inclusion, but rather my concern that residents who have never participated in town issues and offer expertise, should be given priority consideration.

Since it appears, at this time, that the Town has the appropriate number of applicants, I would more than gladly offer any services to provide the organizational information of other municipalities’ experiences, research and accumulate information, post on a web site and ensure that the information is widely distributed and readily available.

It would be hoped at this time, that the Green Committee can be appointed and move forward to address municipal energy use.

FY10 Budget

A regular reader reminded me of the information posted on the MMA site that those seeking budget information would find useful:


Governor’s FY10 budget plan calls for $375M local aid cut

For the curious, the site contains a wealth of information, such as the following that includes ENERGY, a subject that has gone unnoticed in Middleboro:

Public Works, Energy and Utilities

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Flush Rush: Wants Obama to Fail #1


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Last week, Rush Limbaugh said he hopes President Obama fails.

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Obama's failure is our failure.

Obama's failure means more home foreclosures, more neighborhoods blighted by empty homes, more unemployment, more family tragedies.

This isn't about 'buying votes,' but putting America back to work, producing, prosperous, creating a future and optimistic.

That a man who earns his living as a loud mouth, was a drug addict no different from the back alley user, couldn't hack college, can't seem to get this marriage thing right, and is exalted to a position in excess of his abilities or credentials should control the discourse needs serious examination.

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Now is not the time for partisanship, continued hate mongering or ideology. It's time to keep Americans in their homes, safe from harm with appropriate safety nets and jobs. It's time to work together to find solutions that undo the mess of the Bush Administration legacy.

Flush Rush: Desperate Times and Desperate Measures

Our current economic collapse is a consequence of failed and flawed Republican economic policies and an Administration that failed to take appropriate action to avoid the deepening disaster affecting Main Street, our neighbors.

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The broad numbers included below fail to present the personal toll:

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My hometown paper played the news relatively mildly as "Layoffs Spread to More Sectors of the Economy"; the Washington Post chose the slightly stronger, "Layoffs Cut Deeper into Economy"; the Los Angeles Times picked "Deluge of Layoffs Hits U.S. Economy"; the Indianapolis Star, "50,000 New Pink Slips Pile Up"; and the San Jose Mercury, "Bloody Monday: U.S. firms slash 50,000 jobs." At a news conference, the new president rattled off selected names from the all-star line-up of companies that were tossing out bodies and shutting down lives: "Over the last few days we've learned that Microsoft, Intel, United Airlines, Home Depot, Sprint Nextel, and Caterpillar are each cutting thousands of jobs. These are not just numbers on a page. As with the millions of jobs lost in 2008, these are working men and women whose families have been disrupted and whose dreams have been put on hold."

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Meanwhile, the one-day estimate of the number of layoffs, depending on how you were counting and whether you were speaking nationally or globally, rattled around the world -- more than 40,000, 50,000, 55,000, more than 60,000, 71,400, 76,000.

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Here are a few personal accounts:

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* A 21-year-old Milwaukee man who shot himself in the face after "he ran out of unemployment [insurance]."

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* A 43-year-old West Allis man who hanged himself in his basement with a belt. "[T]he mortgage payments are behind," his girlfriend told the police. "There are astronomical medical bills."

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* A 40-year-old Milwaukee woman who overdosed after having "financial problems."

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* A 24-year-old Milwaukee man, "fired from his job three weeks before," who suffocated himself with Saran Wrap.

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* And a 38-year-old Milwaukee man who shot himself in the head. He'd lost his job six weeks earlier.

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In January, less than an hour's drive south of Milwaukee, 37-year-old Staci Paul's car was pulled from Lake Michigan, but they couldn't find the body of the Kenosha, Wisconsin, woman. As an article in the Kenosha News noted, however, friends "said they knew things hadn't been easy for Paul. A single mother, she worked hard to find jobs and as the economy worsened, friends speculated, Paul might have run into some financial trouble. Court records also show Paul had been evicted from her home in October."

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Greenspan's Body Count: Steven L. Good

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Some of us rushed to embrace the anti-New Deal crowd, after all, we didn't live through the Depression and didn't want to pay for those silly things. Who needs unemployment? Who needs these safety net things? That is, until the tragedies become real and we watch the devastation. This is what those New Deal safety net things were about, after all.

Flush Rush! #2








Joan Walsh: No plans to marry Dick Armey
Former Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas) still needs some lessons in etiquette.
Armey, who once referred to fellow Rep. Barney Frank as "Barney Fag," lost his temper during an appearance with Salon editor in chief Joan Walsh on MSNBC's Hardball Wednesday, and lashed out, saying:
I am so damn glad that you could never be my wife, 'cause I surely wouldn't have to listen to that prattle from you every day.
Joan responded, "Well, that makes two of us." She'll have more to say in her blog later on. Video of the appearance is below; the exchange comes about 9:42 in.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Before The Deluge And CPA

Mass Audubon made available the article from Sanctuary Magazine that considered the environmental impact of development of the land that was purchased by investors for a Mega Casino in Middleboro. It's worth the read.
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That article contained the following comments:
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...the town has some 6,000 acres of land protected by various means, according to Conservation Agent Patricia Cassady, from outright ownership to conservation restrictions. They have done this by partnering with such groups as The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Trust for Public Land (TPL), and the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts.
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Rocky Gutter, a 3,380-acre chunk of mostly scrub oak upland and red maple swamp, is managed by MassWildlife.
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In other words, Middleboro has been fortunate to save significant parcels of land because of the generosity and foresight of others.
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This just about says it all:
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...the state is full of towns that didn't make the effort and now strain to meet the demands caused by development.
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In his theatrical presentation, Lincoln Andrews stated that Middleboro had 7 Square Miles of Open Space. When I asked for specifics, the response was a hostile non-answer.

Mrs. Duphily rushed to his defense, armed with no facts and Mrs. Brunelle indicated that Middleboro contains 56 Square Miles.
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The numbers and facts remain undefined, but the following offer some conversions:


3380 ACRES = 5.286 SQUARE MILES
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4,000 ACRES = 6.25 SQUARE MILES
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6,000 ACRES = 9.375 SQUARE MILES
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While several have criticized CPA, it needs to be clarified that there are other uses of CPA funds, in addition to Open Space. Information posted on CPA Now explains the details and the mechanism.
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CPA offers the opportunity to establish a piggy bank (to be matched with funds town residents already pay) for future use instead of borrowing.
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It enables residents to plan the Town's future.

Talk Mansfield

The Administrator of the TalkMansfield discussion forum has advised of the new URL.
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The link at the right of the screen has been corrected.
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This link was begun after the current Town Administrator from Mansfield, Mr. D'Agostino, with the support of local business owner Mr. Saquet, was seriously considered for the position of Town Manager of Middleboro because of the failure of the Search Committee and the Middleboro Board of Selectmen to accomplish their due diligence.
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The documents pertaining to the court case and judgement are posted within the forum.
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At that time, this was
written:
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It should be noted that the two Middleboro Selectmen who would have voted for Mr. D'Agostino, Messrs. Rogers and Spataro are computer savvy and certainly capable of doing their own basic internet searches were it not for laziness. Had they done so, they might have re-considered their votes.
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Steven Spataro has spent most of his last term arriving late to the BOS meetings, sat through one meeting text messaging, sat through another eating his supper, did some kind of strange easel presentation that included inaccurate figures, threw a bizarre and embarrassing public temper tantrum targeting a candidate for Town Manager in the first round of the Town Manager search process, couldn't stop giggling when an applicant for a Used Car Dealers' license explained that he NEVER accepted delivery of his inventory on his property because his business was conducted on the internet, and is generally unprepared for meetings. It's a good thing he's moved his seat, so now he arrives on time. Mr. Spataro has spent all of this time on the BOS and recently was surprised to discover that excise taxes are paid to the Town and retained by the Town. And there's much more, like his current folly for Public Safety Director. That's before we even discuss substantive issues.
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If this were some kind of comedy routine, Mr. Spataro might have a place, but this is a public meeting for the purpose of conducting the Town's business.
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BTW, Mr. Spataro's term expires in April. Along with other municipalities and the Commonwealth, we are confronted with difficult fiscal times. An incumbent who has failed to attend any of the free courses and seminars offered during his tenure to develop an understanding of the Town's finances during his term needs to be replaced. His non-published telephone number speaks volumes about his concern


The following is an e-mail sent to you by an administrator of"TalkMansfield.Org".

Message sent to you follows:
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Please go here and set a new bookmark.--

Administrator, TalkMansfield

Negligence of Peanut Corporation of America

The Corporate Controlled Media has subjected us to a barrage of think tank rhetoric --

Let's Deregulate.

Let's allow business to operate unfettered.

Allow the marketplace to prevail.

A pox on your house if you suggested the need for regulation!

Until something happens.
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The Georgia peanut plant linked to a salmonella outbreak that has

killed eight people

and

sickened 500

more across the country

knowingly shipped

out contaminated peanut butter

12 times in the past two years,

federal officials said yesterday.
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In God's name, how do you justify shipping contaminated food?
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The FDA has never inspected the plant, instead delegating that duty under a contract to the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The federal agency has said it does not have enough inspectors to visit the country's 65,520 domestic food production facilities. In fiscal 2008, it inspected 5,930 plants.
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... Jean Halloran, director of food safety for Consumers Union, said if the government was adequately protecting the food supply, the outbreak could have been minimized or even prevented, and lives could have been saved. Major reforms in inspections and regulations are past due, she said.
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We seem to need a major re-think of our priorities when we fail to insist on corporate responsibility and adequate inspections.
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The rest of the article can be found Peanut Processor Knowingly Sold Tainted Products.
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Local Aid Cuts



DLS/DOR made the following available:

Bulletin 2009-04B - FY2009 Local Aid Cuts has been posted to our website along with a link to the local aid reduction for each city and town:

http://www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/dls/publ/bull/2009/2009_04B.pdf

The FY2010 local aid estimates based on the Governor’s budget proposal have been posted to the Division of Local Services’ web site at the link below:
http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=dorsubtopic&L=5&L0=Home&L1=Local+Officials&L2=Municipal+Data+and+Financial+Management&L3=Cherry+Sheets&L4=FY2010+Cherry+Sheets&sid=Ador
Please be advised that these estimates are based on the appropriation levels appearing in the Governor’s FY2010 budget proposal (House 1) and may change as the legislative process unfolds and proposed appropriation levels change.
The Governor’s FY2010 budget proposal makes substantial changes to some of the major local aid accounts appearing in section 3 of the budget. For more information on these changes please see:
http://www.mass.gov/bb/h1/fy10h1/exec10/hbudbrief6.htm.
Charter School assessments and reimbursements reflect a change in methodology where facilities payments and first year reimbursements of new charter school costs will be paid directly to the charter schools and not reflected in assessments and reimbursements. For more information, please see:
http://www.mass.gov/bb/h1/fy10h1/prnt10/exec10/pbudbrief3.htm.
Please note that Charter School and School Choice assessments may change significantly when updated to reflect spring enrollment data and final tuition rates.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) has published the Chapter 70 aid calculations, minimum contributions and net school spending requirements on Office of School Finance website at:
http://finance1.doe.mass.edu/chapter70/chapter_10.html
To review additional information about how the estimates were determined and what may cause them to change in the future, click on the link at the bottom for and index of the FY2010 programs and links to individual explanations.

Middleboro Registered Voters

On a snowy New England day, a review of registered voters in Middleboro revealed some statistics that offer some insight. The numbers below represent the percentage of eligible voters who registered to vote (as of January 2008). Since this was a Presidential Election year, the registration numbers may have increased slightly prior to November 2008, but the percentages are consistent with previous years. This does not reflect those who actually vote and are reported after each election by the Town Clerk.
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Precinct 1 86%
Precinct 2 77%
Precinct 3 82%
Precinct 4 74%
Precinct 5 82%
Precinct 6 79%

Monday, January 26, 2009

Middleboro Chairman of BOS Resigns

From the Cape Cod Times --

Adam Bond, the selectman who spearheaded the town’s casino deal with the Mashpee Wampanoag, resigned tonight.
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Bond made a brief statement at the start of tonight's selectman's meeting, pushed his gavel aside and walked out of the room. While some people in the room looked surprised, members of the board did not react. Instead they elected a new chairman and continued the meeting.

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And from the Brockton Enterprise --
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MIDDLEBORO —
Selectman Chairman Adam M. Bond shocked his fellow board members and the town as a whole by abruptly announcing he is quitting the board and walking out of Monday night’s meeting.

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Once a champion and chief architect of the town’s agreement with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe for a casino in town, Monday night he charged his fellow board members with not showing any “gumption” in defending the interests of the town.
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“More to the point, I cannot, in good conscience, be complicit in what I believe is the co-opting of a majority of this board to favor tribal and investor interests rather than the town,” he said in his letter of resignation.
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Town Clerk Eileen S. Gates any notice of a vacancy on a board by Feb. 12 means the balance of the term will be up for grabs at the April election.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Stephen McKinnon, Candidate for Selectman

Official Announcement from Stephen McKinnon ----

I have decided to run for Selectman against Spataro.

I am looking for support in the effort. I will need some sign wavers, polling place people, and word spreaders.

I am also looking for safe places to place my campaign signs.

It goes without saying that Financial contributions are always welcome.

In that light I have also started a new E-mail account.

stephenmckinnon867@gmail.com

Looking forward to the battle!

Stephen J. McKinnon


Please contact Mr. McKinnon to offer any support.

Time For Change

Chuck Kleekamp provided factual insight into the cost of energy in southeastern Massahcusetts because of the Mirant Canal plant for those who missed it --
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Allow me to share with readers some pertinent facts of the oil fueled steam powered Canal plant. This was the most efficient oil fired steam power plant in the age when it was constructed in 1978. But times have changed. Modern natural gas fired combustion turbine plants are much more efficient now.
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Specifically, the efficiency of Canal's unit 1, a base load unit is 38%. Unit 2, a cycling unit is 34%. And if unit 2 is fired with natural gas its efficiency is only 32%. Compare that to a gas fired combustion turbine plant where the efficiency is over 50%. Almost half the generating plants in New England are now gas fired turbine plants. The hand writing is on the wall.
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$350 Million paid by consumers would have accomplished a great deal if utilized with a plan for the future, as Rep Patrick explains --
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Customers paid $350 million to run Mirant Electric as backup --
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State Rep. Matthew Patrick, D-Falmouth, looks back at those years and that money, and wonders aloud what else that $350 million could have been used for.
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Photovoltaic energy panels on every roof. Wind turbines throughout the Cape. A one-third share of the proposed Cape Wind offshore turbine farm.

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The issue of how local ratepayers came to spend so much money without being asked is prompting Patrick and other Cape residents to take a closer look at the relatively obscure way that electricity is managed in Massachusetts and New England.

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The state representative wants state and federal energy regulators to better encourage reducing demand and to increasing the role that renewable energy and smaller, distributed generators play in the power grid's supply.
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At present, the state's new Green Communities Act mandates that all new energy generation be compared to new energy efficiency programs or renewable energy to determine the least cost, not only economically but to society and the environment as well.
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"Do we just go on mindlessly accommodating new fossil fuel generation or transmission for large generators without considering distributed generation? Apparently, if the industry has its way, we do."
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Our laws and regulations need to be re-considered to provide for the 21st Century with emphasis on efficiency and alternatives. Rep. Patrick's proposals make great sense. It's time to move beyond this issue and get the job done!

Efficiency Is Our Best Untapped Energy Source



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Energy is a complex topic these days and most bring to the discussion old or preconceived concepts that no longer serve.
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Dirty Coal will never be clean.
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Nuclear will never be cost effective because of plant construction costs, before we consider waste disposal and a finite resource.
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Amory Lovins', co-founder and chairman of Rocky Mountain Institute, comments were included in an interview Efficiency Is Our Best Untapped Energy Source worth the read --
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Carole Bass: You have called energy efficiency "the largest, cheapest, safest, cleanest, fastest way to provide energy services." How do you quantify that claim? For example, how large, how cheap, how fast?
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Amory Lovins: Oh, for example, in the United States we could save at least half the oil and gas and three-quarters of the electricity we use, and that efficiency investment would cost only about an eighth [of] what we’re now paying for those forms of energy. …
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As part of our conversation, of necessity we need to consider both sides of the equation, that is Supply as well as Demand.
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It's not as sexy as wind turbines on the horizon or a photo voltaic array on the roof, but is far more cost effective.
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The current New England winter has treated us to snow-covered roofs repeatedly. Watching the pattern of snow melting on a roof is the best and cheapest indication of attic heat loss. Driving around Middleboro reveals some pretty astounding energy consumption just from the barren roofs. I can only wonder what their heating bills are and how long it would take to save the cost of insulating their attics.

Following The Yellow Brick Road

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Prior to the TMFH (for the uninitiated: Town Meeting From Hell, where residents were forced to sit or stand in the sweltering sun when the ballot option was available), I made a few phone calls as reminders to registered voters.
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As most are aware, I have handed out voter registration forms, delivered them to the homes of unregistered voters, and encouraged participation, as have many others.
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Among the voters I called were those who had recently registered.
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On the list was an elderly couple (older than I am) who had just recently registered, even though they had lived in the town for many years.
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When I explained to the gentleman that I was calling as a reminder, his response was rather explosive.
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He explained that the reason he registered to vote was to attend the TMFH to vote for the casino so that he could get out of 'this hell hole of a town.'
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It was disappointing that in his many years, he failed to find the need to participate in the democratic process until he believed a pot of gold existed on his horizon.
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One of the troubling aspects that has enveloped supporters is their unwillingness to insist on the facts and figures before endorsing the IGA.
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Someone, somewhere heard that Native Americans get rich when they have casinos. Reminiscent of Wayne Perkins stating that towns in Connecticut with casinos don't pay taxes.
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Does the Tribe, even at this late date, know what the terms of the Agreement that Glenn Marshall signed with the investors are?
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If you are Mashpee Wampanoag, what will you receive?
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It All Sounds Familiar includes these comments --
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Critics say the poverty of non-gaming tribes makes them vulnerable to environmentally hazardous projects.
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“I think the Indians got sold a bill of goods,” she said. “You dangle money in front of people, and that carrot looks awfully good at the end of the string. And that string is a very short string.”
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I might be inclined to add that the Mashpee Wampanoags followed about to be convicted felons down that Yellow Brick Road and failed to ask for the facts before supporting their leaders. It's time for you to ask questions as well.
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We're not in Oz and the Wizard behind the curtain is a little, insignificant man about to spend a few years in a federal prison.

A New Day Has Dawned

I have received a large volume of emails and phone calls, not all fully reviewed as yet, regarding the issues unfolding and my inexplicable silence.
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If you have a comment regarding the Town, please don't hesitate to post it. I simply haven't had time to compose a blog entry and frankly, there's not much to say.
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Having gone door to door to collect signatures for the Recall, rest assured that I have heard far more than will ever be made public about the local cast of characters.
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Did we ever believe the sordid dealings of Jack Abramoff would live in Middleboro?
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Please feel free to post comments, but also consider that what we need to move forward and deal with future issues is a resolve to pay attention and encourage others to do so as well. We need to participate, ask questions, inform ourselves.
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We watched the unfolding saga of Abramoff from a distance, believing we were unaffected by the sleaze and the payoffs, disregard of the laws, money laundering for gambling, the hypocrisy of the 'anti-gambling' likes of Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed.
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The sordid episode of Glenn Marshall's indictment and the pending indictments of others as yet unnamed, has enveloped our Town because we weren't vigilant.
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Rather than participating in the current hysteria of missteps and misconduct by a Board of Selectmen that is incompetent and incapable of governance, and rather than participating in the daily soap opera, there are several observations offered.
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Although I hate to say "I told you so," the handwriting of the Abramoff connections was clearly writ.
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That the Middleboro Board of Selectmen fails to recognize the impact on the IGA defines their incompetence as a whole.
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Having no privileged information, but having watched these unfolding sagas elsewhere, what seems a consistent pattern is that when one person is indicted, others step forward with additional information.
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What I anticipate is that there will be local indictments that will instill a backbone in some to step into the light and speak out.
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There will be no quick process, as the Marshall indictment proves, but justice will be served.
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As friend and fellow blogger, Gladys Kravitz pointed out, you have the right to insist that local activities be investigated. And you have a right to complain.
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Office of Attorney General
Martha Coakley
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108

Office of the Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Secretary of the Department of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

Bureau of Indian Affairs
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240
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Massachusetts Ethics Commission
One Ashburton Place
John W. McCormack Building
Room 619 Boston, MA 02108
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Board of Bar Overseers
99 High Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02110

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cape Wind

Cape Cod Today, which has done a spectacular job presenting information about Cape Wind, offers Democrats disagree over wind energy Obama vs. Kennedy and Delahunt over Cape Wind
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The article originated in the American Thinker where this comment was included:
Of course, "aides to Mr. Kennedy made a point of saying Friday that an obstructed view was not among the senator's concerns."

Middleboro: Home of Mushroom Farming

Just when you think Middleboro might be moving forward, making progress and moving into the appropriate century, you realize that the dinosaurs have prevailed!
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The PTWS (Pathetic Town Web Site, a label not originating with me) has long been the butt of jokes and frustration and letters to the BOS and the Middleboro Gazette.
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For comparison, MMA offers City and Town Web Sites
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Both the Middleborough Public Library and the Middleborough Public Schools offer user friendly formats with pertinent information.
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A review of the Selectmen's Meeting Minutes, historically available on line, seems to indicate that minutes have not been posted since is that July 2008?
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And those minutes are posted in doc format.
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It would appear that if you miss a meeting because you're on vacation or out of town, you need to submit a Public Records Request, wait for the retrieval of the pertinent documents and pay for them as well.
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So much for transparency in Town Government! And the Board of Selectmen haven't noticed.
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Offers of free assistance to replace the PTWS have been ignored or rebuffed by the IT Director.
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As part of the discussion regarding the Community Preservation Act (CPA), a search for information about the actions of other communities produced Open Space Plan Massachusetts.
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Other municipalities actually provide information that is available to the public.
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Not so Middleboro, Home of Mushroom Farming!
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More than a year ago, the IT Director announced that he would add a Calendar feature to the PTWS. If you want to know what meetings are scheduled, you must travel to the Bank Building to review the bulletin board, but don't forget binoculars. If the lobby is locked, you'll need them. And don't plan on the visit being brief because the bulletin board is disorganized and confusing, so time is required for review. Or to find out what meetings are scheduled for only the following week, you can buy the Middleboro Gazette. So, if you want a Calendar format that actually projects public hearings or future schedules, don't look for it because it's never been important enough for the BOS or IT Director to provide.
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Even the Board of Selectmen has never found it important enough to post their future agendas of public hearings prior to the 48 hours mandated by the Open Meeting Law.
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All of the above ignores that Executive Session Minutes were requested more than a year ago, as is appropriate under the Public Records Law.
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One interesting fact posted on the PTWS is the following:
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The area that the town covers is 68.1 square miles.
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Former Selectman, Lincoln Andrews made the unsubstantiated statement as fact during the January 12, 2009, Board of Selectmen's Meeting, that 7 Square Miles of the Town was preserved as Open Space.
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Those who attended or watched might recall Mr. Andrews' unnecessary outburst when I asked, through the Chairman of the Board, the source of the "fact."
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And Mrs. Duphily, who pays little attention to facts, rushed to defend the fiction.
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But then, this is Home of Mushroom Farming! Don't allow facts to intrude in your opposition or support when it's convenient.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cape Wind: Hooray!

Cape Wind Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) paves the way for the first offshore wind project to begin.

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Cape Wind construction could start by year's end
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Barbara Hill, executive director of Clean Power Now, a nonprofit organization that supports renewable energy and Cape Wind, called on elected officials who had yet to take a stand on the project, such as U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, to do so now that the project had received a favorable environmental report from the MMS.
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Marty Aitkens, business consultant for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 103, called the work that will be generated by Cape Wind "the perfect job at the perfect time."

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From WP:

Obama has made alternative energy a cornerstone of his plan to revive the economy, and he reiterated that stance yesterday with a visit to an Ohio factory that makes parts for wind turbines. But one of his closest friends in Congress, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Cape Wind project.
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"I do not believe that this action by the Interior Department will be sustained," Kennedy said in a statement. "By taking this action, the Interior Department has virtually assured years of continued public conflict and contentious litigation."

Senator, it's time to lead for the public good and not preserve your view. It's time to support Cape Wind.


It's time to move forward with this project and generate jobs and clean energy!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cement Kilns and Highly Toxic Mercury Pollution

Kudos to Earthjustice for finally reaching a settlement to reduce mercury pollution from cement kilns, EPA standards to be presented by March 2009.
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The smoke discharged from cement kilns appears clean, but carries its mercury pollution and other toxins with it to contaminate rivers, streams, neighborhoods, drinking water and to accumulate in the environment where it persists.
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Voluntary industry emissions estimates have been grossly understated, which accounts for significant discrepancies between industry estimates and estimates based on production calculations.
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So much for voluntary compliance!
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The industry friendly Administration has ignored public health hazards, scientific facts and the law.
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CEMENT KILNS—These facilities release vast quantities of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) into the air every year, including approximately 5 tons of mercury. For four years, the Bush administration has refused to set standards to control this pollution and protect public health in spite of a December 15, 2000 federal court’s order that EPA issue regulations to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxic chemicals from cement kilns. The Bush administration’s continued refusal to respond to this court order has forced Earthjustice, on behalf of the Sierra Club, to file a writ of Mandamus to compel the administration to finally act on the court’s order and issue protective regulations.
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COAL-BURNING POWER PLANTS—Power plants are one of the most well-known sources of mercury pollution, releasing some 48 tons of the toxin into the air each year. Rather than propose standards that would provide the maximum achievable controls for this toxin, the Bush administration proposed to reclassify mercury from power plants as a non-hazardous air pollutant. The new definition doesn’t change the dangers mercury poses to health and the environment, but it does weaken and delay standards for the control and reduction of this toxic pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
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And this from the announcement --
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The report -- titled "Cementing a Toxic Legacy?" -- drew on the latest EPA data, which found that the nation's 151 cement plants generate 22,918 pounds of airborne mercury each year. Previously, EPA believed that cement kilns accounted for about 11,995 pounds of annual mercury emissions.
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one-seventieth of one teaspoon of mercury can contaminate a 20-acre lake and make the lake's fish unsafe to eat.

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The following is a list of the most egregious offenders from Earthjustice, hopefully to appear on search engines to brand the producers, watch for some of these names to appear on campaign donors' lists --
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The Ash Grove Cement Plant in Durkee, Oregon has the dubious distinction of being the worst mercury polluter of any kind in the country, emitting more mercury into the air than any power plant, steel mill or hazardous waste incinerator. In 2006 Ash Grove reported to the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory that it emitted 2,582 pounds of mercury. Based on information Ash Grove submitted to EPA in 2007, however, actual emissions may be as much as 3,788 pounds a year.
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Lafarge North America, Inc., shows up on the Top 10 Polluting Cement Kiln list twice, at rank four and rank five with its plants in New York and Michigan. By Lafarge's own calculations the kiln in Ravena, New York emits 400 pounds of mercury per year.
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Lehigh's Union Bridge, Maryland, plant is located approximately 75 miles northwest of Baltimore. It is the fifth largest cement kiln in the United States, able to produce nearly 2 million tons of clinker annually. The Lehigh cement kiln at Union Bridge reported to TRI in 2006 emitting only 35 pounds of mercury pollution; but Lehigh reported in newly released TRI data for 2007 emitting 376 pounds of mercury. However, as reported in "Cementing a Toxic Legacy?" this kiln also has the capacity to emit as much as 1,539 pounds of mercury a year. This is particularly significant given the plant's proximity to the Chesapeake Bay.
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The largest concentration of cement manufacturing in the entire country is just outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex in Midlothian, Texas. Citizens of Midlothian are burdened by five plants operated by Holcim, Ash Grove and Texas Industries, all within a 6.5 mile radius of each other. Combined, these plants emit just under 200 pounds of mercury on an annual basis, and thousands of tons of other dangerous toxic air pollutants.
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In the San Francisco Bay Area, Hanson Permanente Cement operates a kiln in Cupertino, California. This kiln is located within a major residential area in close proximity to several Cupertino schools. It is also located within five miles of the San Francisco Bay, which is currently contaminated with mercury. The Hanson Permanente kiln reported emitting a staggering 494 pounds of mercury pollution in 2006 to the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory. EPA failed to include Hanson Permanente Cement in any of its information requests, leaving open the possibility that its mercury emissions could be even worse.
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The CEMEX kiln in Davenport, California is of similar concern. That kiln, located right beside homes and farms along California's coastline and only 40 miles north of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary, reported emitting 172 pounds of mercury pollution to the Toxic Release Inventory in 2006. The Davenport kiln is one of those for which EPA refuses to release data gathered in 2007.
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The Lafarge site in Alpena, Michigan is a five-kiln plant, and in 2006 was the nation's third largest cement plant. These kilns collectively reported emitting 360 pounds of mercury in 2006. The Alpena cement plant is of particular concern because it sits on the banks of Lake Huron and in close proximity to residential areas of Alpena.
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As a footnote to any interested in DIRTY COAL, Earthjustice offers
Economic Valuation of Human
Health Benefits of Controlling
Mercury Emissions from U.S.
Coal-Fired Power Plants

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The following was previously posted --
Mercury, Power Plants, Fish and Cement Kilns
Mercury and Cement Kilns

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Middleboro: Last To Act, First To Whine

The Middleboro Board of Selectmen, incapable of walking and chewing gum at the same time or addressing future planning along with current business whine about budget shortfalls, but fail to act. Well, that is, unless you consider Selectman Spataro's recent rant about a Charter change to hire a Public Safety Director that he might have accomplished two years ago had he not been text messaging during meetings. His current attentiveness is only due to his upcoming re-election in April.
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Other than individual town employees applying for grants, Middleboro misses out repeatedly.
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Remember the candidate for Fire Chief who told the Board during the interviews that he applied for and received a grant for a new Ladder Truck?
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The Brockton Enterprise offered an article about GRANT MONEY received by Rockland, but pay attention to this part ---
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The grant for the solar panels was applied for in November by the Rockland Energy Committee, which formed in 2007. Since then, the committee has established a partnership with National Grid; that led to an energy audit of the high school.
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In December, the state Department of Energy Resources awarded a total of $2.7 million to Rockland and 16 other towns. Rockland will use its $150,000 grant to make energy-efficiency improvements at the elementary schools.

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Kudos to Rockland for being proactive.
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Rockland is but one community that began to address ENERGY while it's not even on the Middleboro BOS Agenda.
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While ENERGY is my personal concern, there are many other areas that other municipalities are addressing, while Mr. Spataro text messages, Mrs. Brunelle says 'we've tried to do this in the past....', Mrs. Duphily fails to grasp any issue beyond her mindless support for the casino, facts be damned! You get the point.
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And remember that Mrs. Brunelle was Chairwoman when Real Estate Tax Bills were mailed out late and the entire rest of the Board failed to speak up, make a motion to prevent it or even protest.
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It's time to elect people to the Board of Selectmen willing to devote the time, effort and energy to do the research, inform themselves, and maybe even venture beyond the Town's borders to look at what other towns have accomplished.
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You copy success instead of being mired in dysfunction.
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The new Town Manager, Mr. Cristello seems to be doing his best to inform this Board that there is life beyond the borders of Middleboro, but when the dinosaurs from the past step forward to protest CPA, his success is doubtful.
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And, by the way, where is the Middleboro Gas & Electric Company?

NATL DIRTY COAL CONCEALS SPILL MEDIA SILENT

NOTHING IN THE CORPORATE CONTROLLED MEDIA ABOUT THE NATIONAL COAL CORPORATION COAL SPILL.
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Note the time discrepancy. The spill occurred on FRIDAY and was discovered on MONDAY and reported, after attempts at cleanup had been ongoing over the weekend. Something to hide?
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The Sierra Club offered the following (emphasis mine):
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#1 On December 22, one billion gallons of coal ash sludge and contaminated water, the waste product of coal-fired power plants of the Tennessee Valley Authority, broke through a containment area into the rivers of Kingston, Tennessee.
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#2 Last week a coal train operated by National Coal Corporation over turned spilling approximately 1100 tons of coal next to the New River in Scott County, Tennessee. Eight rail cars, which typically hold 120 tons of coal, were involved.
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#3 And now another spill occurred in Alabama at the Tennessee Valley Authority Widows Creek coal-fired plant, releasing up to 10,000 gallons of polluted sludge.
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These spills highlight the urgent need for us to begin moving beyond coal to cleaner energy sources that power our communities without polluting them.
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President-elect Obama can jumpstart a clean energy economy and start reducing global warming pollution immediately by doing the following:
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Direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant a waiver that will allow California and over a dozen other states to limit global warming pollution from cars.

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End the rush to build dirty coal plants by directing the EPA to require all new and existing power plants limit their global warming emissions.

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Direct the EPA to end irresponsible mountaintop removal coal mining by stopping coal companies from dumping rock and waste into valleys and streams.

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Restore America’s international leadership in the fight to end global warming by publicly committing the U.S. to cut its CO2 emissions by at least 35% by 2020.

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It’s becoming clear that the magnitude of the billion gallon sludge spill in Kingston, Tennessee finally shined a light on a quiet tragedy that has been going on for decades--smaller coal ash spills and releases that pollute our land and water.

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From The Huffington Post:
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ONEIDA, Tenn.
A coal train operated by National Coal Corporation over turned on Friday, January 9, 2009, spilling approximately 1100 tons of coal next to the New River in Scott County, Tennessee. Eight rail cars, which typically hold 120 tons of coal, were involved.

The contamination was discovered on Monday, January 12, 2009 by Steve Bakaletz, a Wildlife Biologist with the National Park Service at the Big South Fork (BSF) Recreation Area's Oneida Office.
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The Alliance for Appalachia

“Now we have examples — right here in Tennessee — of the dirty face of coal, from mountaintop and surface coal mining to coal transport to coal combustion and coal waste disposal,” said Cathie Bird, Chairperson of the Stripmine Issues Committee of SOCM.
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“I think somebody’s trying to tell us something. We need to push past coal and focus on clean energy sources, before any more streams are trashed or lives disrupted,” said Bird.

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Another Tennessee Coal Spill. Seriously.
I can’t believe this — 1100 TONS of coal dumped in Tennessee and I can’t find ANYthing about this anywhere on-line except via the good folks with Sierra Club and Save Our Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee.
If you are fed up and fired up and ready to stand in solidarity with communities in Tennessee check out Mountain Justice Spring Break www.mjsb.org which will be happening near the TVA Ash Dam Disaster March 7-15, 2009 and will encourage service projects and direct action against TVA’s criminal negligence.
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PowerPastCoal
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The Second of Three Dirty Coal Spills

TVA allowed more hazardous waste to enter streams and endanger drinking water.
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Note that none of these ponds is lined to protect groundwater contamination.
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Tennessee Green


In Tennessee, seeps have been noted in the ash structures at TVA's Cumberland and New Johnsonville facilities, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
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Thousands of gallons overflowed the settling pond, and much of it cascaded down a hill into the creek.
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A silvery gray sludge coated the shore in the photos taken at Bellefonte Landing, near a site for which TVA is seeking a permit to build a nuclear power plant.
Tennessee Green
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TVA has done such a bang up job in monitoring waste, monitoring the environment and getting this disaster cleaned up, the prospect of issuing a nuclear permit is sure inspiring!

Middleboro's 2008 Lottery Purchases and Our Priorities

The following represent figures received from the lottery for 2008 ---
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ALL PRODUCTS $16,652,171.50


Instant Game 13,617,503.00

Keno 1,394,346.00

Numbers 863,623.00

Mega Millions 394,074.00

Mass Cash 127,136.00

Cash Winfall 109,407.00

MegaBucks 128,137.00

Daily Race 17,945.50

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When I see dollar amounts such as this, arguments against the Community Preservation Act (CPA) loose their credibility.

Senator Kennedy: You need to lead for the public good

Honorable Senator Kennedy:
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You need to lead for the public good.
You need to support and promote projects like Cape Wind.
You need to oppose the expansion of DIRTY ENERGY that has created the abundance of your wealthy friends.
We need your aggressive support to prepare for the post fossil fuel economy.
We hope you'll join in the effort.

The Dirty Lie of Clean Coal

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TVA Coal is Killing Tennessee

Dirty Coal: Memorable Quotes #1

In view of the Cape Wind opposition, the environmental destruction of DIRTY ENERGY is overlooked by the corporate owned media. Some of the comments emanating in defense of this mess are ludicrous.
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STEVENSON, Ala. (AP)A waste pond at a coal-burning power plant in northeast Alabama ruptured Friday, but the spill was quickly contained, utility officials said.
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Too funny! We can trust these people right?
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In 2005, the utility reported depositing 445,200 tons of gypsum in ponds at the Widows Creek plant.
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TVA inspected all its retaining ponds, including the ones at the Widows Creek Fossil Plant, after the rupture in Tennessee. Moulton said on Dec. 31 that the ponds were "all in good shape."
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Ooops! Looks like you need to fire someone!
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TVA had sought no permits and hadn't coordinated with the state environment department about its special operation at the dam, and had not coordinated with Tennessee State Parks or the U.S. Forest Service, Calabrese-Benton said.
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Calabrese-Benton said the sediment had built up behind the dam over decades after flowing down from the Copper Basin, an area in the southeast corner of Tennessee where mining and pollution wiped out vegetation generations ago.
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Think CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS with each political comment about this disaster and the failure of Congress to prevent this environmental destruction --
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Toxic Influence: Coal ash-tainted money funds senators holding TVA disaster hearing
Using the most recent data available from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org website (updated with Federal Elections Commission data as of Dec. 8), the Institute for Southern Studies examined campaign contributions from electric utilities to members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the 2008 elections. We found that the industry gave members of this key committee a total of $1,079,503.
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Another TVA coal waste spill underscores need for federal action
In addition to the disastrous spill of more than a billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge from its Kingston power plant in Eastern Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authority is now grappling with another recent spill of coal waste pollution from one of its facilities.
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TVA Coal is Killing Tennessee